Learn to Hit High-Percentage Shots

Golf Sage - Sunday, April 21, 2013

HIT HIGH-PERCENTAGE SHOTS
 
Play tee shots that will not land in trouble, approach shots that will not short-side your ball to the pin, and recovery shots that have the best chance to finish near the hole. 
 
 
Learn to hit the draw shot—which curves right-to-left and the fade shot—which curves left-to-right to play high percentage tee shots and approach shots.  There is a simple adjustment to your alignment which produces a draw or fade shot.  To hit the draw shot, align your feet, hips, and shoulders slightly to the right of the target line.  To hit the fade shot, align your feet, hips, and shoulders slightly to the left of the target line.  Make sure your clubface is aimed precisely down the target line, then swing along the line of your body alignment.  This produces a slight right-to-left ball spin for the draw shot and a slight left-to-right ball spin for the fade shot.
 
On tee shots with severe trouble down one side of the fairway, curve the ball in the direction of the trouble.  For example, if you are playing #18 at Pebble Beach with the Pacific Ocean down the left side of the fairway, it is safer to hit a draw shot than a straight shot or fade shot.  If the shot does not draw, your ball is in the right rough.  If the shot draws slightly, your ball is in the right side of the fairway.  If the shot draws normally, the ball is in the center of the fairway.  If the shots draws a lot, your ball is in the left rough.  The only way you drive the ball into the largest lateral water hazard in the world is if the shot is a large hook.

In contrast, it is dangerous to hit a fade shot when teeing off on #18 at Pebble Beach with the Pacific Ocean down the left side of the fairway.  If the shot does not fade, your ball is in the Pacific Ocean.  If the shot fades slightly, your ball is on the beach or lodged in the cliffs that lead down to the beach.  The only way the shot is safe is if it fades normally or fades too much, where your ball is in the center of the fairway or the right side of the fairway.  When you hit the draw shot off the tee at Pebble Beach, there are more safe scenarios for where the ball lands than when you hit the fade shot.
 
On approach shots when the pin is placed on the left side or right side of the green, curve the ball right-to-left when the pin is on the left side of the green and curve the ball left-to-right when the pin is on the right side of the green.  When you hit a draw to left pin placements or hit a fade to right pin placements, you have much less chance to short-side your ball to the pin.  If you miss-hit the ball, you want to leave yourself a shot to the pin with a lot of green to work with.  Then, you have a good chance to get the ball up-and-down in 2 shots.  If you miss the green to the short-side to the pin placement, it is much more difficult to hit your recovery shot close enough to the pin to make a 1-putt and save a par on the hole. 
 
On recovery shots near the green, chip or pitch the ball on the lowest possible trajectory that lands the ball on the green and rolls the ball to the hole.  The lower the shot travels to the ground, the easier it is to gauge the force needed to hit the ball the correct distance. 
 
When chipping the ball with no wrist action, it is a higher percentage shot to select a 6-iron that lands the ball 3’ onto the green and rolls 20’ to the hole than to select an 8-iron that lands the ball 10’ onto the green and rolls 10’ to the hole. 
 
When pitching the ball with your sand wedge and a normal hinge of your wrists, it is a higher percentage shot to take a 1/3 swing with the clubface 1/8 open than it is to take a ½ swing with the clubface ¼ open.  The first shot will fly on a lower trajectory because the face of the club is 1/8 open instead of ¼ open.  The first shot is also easier to play because you are taking a 1/3 backswing instead of a ½ backswing. The only reason you would take a ½ swing with the clubface ¼ open is when you have very little distance for the ball to roll to the hole after the ball lands.
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